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Local man to serve 2 to 4 years for burglarizing occupied home

LACONIA — A Fair Street man was sentence to serve one to two years in the New Hampshire State Prison for entering an occupied home on Pine Street in October of 2013.

Alan Johnstone, 24, was also sentenced to serve one to two years for violating probation for committing the October 2013 burglary while he was on probation for a different burglary that occurred in February of 2012.

This period of incarceration is in addition to an additional 12 months in the Belknap County House of Corrections for attempted burglary and possession of burglary tools in March of 2012.

Johnstone was accused of breaking into what he thought was an empty Pine Street home only to find the son of the owners was staying there while he recovered from day surgery.

The son, who is a police officer but not in Laconia, knew Johnstone from high school and escorted him from the house. He called the Laconia Police.

When the victim asked why he was in his parents' house, Johnstone said he had heard that he had had surgery and was checking in on him.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 01:24

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Leonard to seek Democratic nomination for N.H. Senate Dist. 6

NEW DURHAM — Rich Leonard, a pharmacist and farmer, announced yesterday that he will again seek the Democratic nomination for the New Hampshire Senate in District 6, consisting of Rochester and the towns of Alton, Barnstead, Farmington Gilmanton and New Durham.

In his first foray into electoral politics in 2012, Leonard lost the seat to Republican Sam Cataldo of Farmington by 637 votes, 12,764 to 12,127. Leonard carried five wards in Rochester, losing the sixth by 32 votes, but was beaten in all of the five towns, including a drubbing by 793 votes in Alton that decided the outcome of the election.

In a prepared statement, Leonard said, "It's time families and businesses in the Senate District 6 had a State Senator who shares their values and will work hard to represent them in a civil and bi-partisan manner," a thinly veiled references to Cataldo's affinity for the Tea Party.

Describing himself as a lifelong Democrat, Leonard presents himself as a strong supporter of public education from kindergarten to the university, including the community colleges working partnership with businesses to develop a skilled workforce. He also backs the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid to the uninsured in New Hampshire.

The pharmacy manager at Hannaford's store in Alton, Leonard also owns Miller Farm with its orchard of 380 apple and peach trees and sugar shack. He is a member of the Public Health Advisory Council-Executive Committee and University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension Service in Strafford County. Raised in Hanover, Mass., he lived in Rochester for 26 years before moving to New Durham in 2004.

Duane Kimball, who chairs the Strafford County Democratic Committee and manages Leonard's campaign, said yesterday that despite starting late in his first campaign, Leonard ran well in 2012 and with more preparation and an early start fares to be a stronger candidate in 2014.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 01:32

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Man accused in stabbing says victim ran onto knife

LACONIA — The young man who is charged with first-degree assault for allegedly cutting a Keene man's neck with a knife said yesterday that the alleged victim ran at him during a verbal altercation early Sunday morning in a local downtown parking lot.

Travis Dunn, 24, is being held without bail in the Belknap County Jail. As of Sunday, his alleged victim, Richard Russell of Keene, was in critical but stable condition at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon.

Dunn, who spoke to the media yesterday, said he was at the Funky Monkey at closing time and was leaving the bar with two girls he knew. They were all going to leave in one car.

He said when they went out the back door to the Beacon Street West parking lot, there were a bunch of guys he had never seen before standing around the woman's car in which the three were going to leave. He said they started yelling and trash-talking at him.

"I was two seconds from sitting in the seat," Dunn said yesterday from behind the glass wall at the jail.

He said just as he was getting into front passenger seat of the girl's car, he said a white double cab or club cab pickup pulled up and more guys he didn't know got out of it.

Dunn said he stood outside the car and brandished a small pocket knife he carries with him. He said he stood with his arm at a 90-degree angle and the five or six men were standing around him in a semi-circle.

"I told them all to back the (explicative) off," he said. He said the girls were pulling him into the car but the group of guys had the car surrounded and were blocking the way out.

He said at this point one guy who was wearing a brown shirt tried calm things down by telling his friends to back off.

"Then this idiot comes charging at me," Dunn said. "I don't even know if he knew I had a knife. He ran right into it."

He said the man, presumably Russell, was wearing a black and white shirt and appeared to be "wasted." He said it appeared he could barely stand up.

"I don't know if he thought he was some kind of commando or something," Dunn said wiping tears from his eyes. "He was just so drunk."

Dunn said once he realized he "nicked" the man he ran because the rest of the guys began chasing him. He said he ran through downtown and eventually hid under a car on Canal Street for about an hour.

He said he heard the police looking for him and could hear a police dog barking but said he was afraid they would shoot him if he came out from under the car.

After an hour he said he made it home and turned himself in to police the next day.

When asked what happened to the knife, he said he fell down about four times while running from the guys who were chasing him and thinks he must have dropped it.

"It's downtown somewhere," he said.

Dunn said he didn't recognize any of the men and doesn't remember seeing them in the Funky Monkey during the evening. He said it's possible the men knew one of the women he was with and that it's possible they were in the bar and he didn't realize it.

He said he had no intention of getting into any kind of argument or fight Saturday night.

"Heck I had two girls and some money left in my pocket," he said. Dunn said the evening had been one of the best nights he'd had in a long time and he was just looking forward to getting home.

"I had two girls. I sure didn't want to mess that up," he said.

Dunn said he's been "in the hole" or in solitary confinement since he turned himself in and has been reading the Bible and "praying and praying and praying."

When asked what he was praying for, he said he was praying Russell was going to be okay and that he gets to participate in his daughter's life.

"I got a daughter, I got a good job," Dunn said, adding he was raised partially in Florida and spent three years of his young life in and out of foster care.

He said he had just begun to connect with some of his family members in the Lakes Region and that his life was just starting to come together.

He said he never met his father until he was 18 and then he died of alcoholism. "I want to be there for my daughter," he said, tears welling again in his eyes.

Dunn also described himself as someone who doesn't like to fight. "Heck, I don't even like to drink that much," he said.

When asked if he had any kind of criminal record he said he was arrested with marijuana once and got into a fight once when he was in high school but he doesn't think that went on his record.

Dunn will appear by video in the 4th Circuit Court, Laconia Division this morning and will likely be represented by the Laconia Public Defender's office.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 12:50

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City has spent 90%of winter storm funds

LACONIA — With five weeks remaining until the first day spring, the Department of Public Works has spent approximately 90-percent of its winter maintenance budget.

The budget of $407,500 consists of three components. The cost of vehicles and purchases of salt and sand amounts to $330,000, while $27,500 is allocated for private contractors, and $50,000 for overtime wages. Through January, $230,000 had been spent on vehicles and material, $9,653 on contractors and $59,949 on overtime. Altogether the city had spent $299,602, almost three-quarters of its budget.

Paul Moynihan, director of public works, estimated yesterday that more than $69,000 has been spent so far in February, much of during last week's storm, when snow fell heavily late in the day and into the night to keep crews on the road around the clock. He estimated that the department spent another $50,000 on vehicles and materials, $8,000 on contractors and $10,000 to $11,000 on overtime during the two storms.

Salt usage, which represents the largest single cost in the budget, is a good indicator of the severity of the winter. So far this year the department has used 3,941.58 tons of salt at $55.31 per ton for a total expenditure of $218,008.79 compared to 3,138.35 tons at $61.65 per ton for a total expenditure of $193,479.28 a year ago. In other words, 25-percent more salt has been applied this winter than last, and there are five more weeks before winter officially ends.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 18 February 2014 01:55

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